Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Camii

The Süleymaniye Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. The mosque was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent and designed by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan. An inscription specifies the foundation date as 1550 and the inauguration date as 1557. It is the second largest mosque in the city, the city’s largest Ottoman-era mosque, and one of the best-known sights of Istanbul.

The Süleymaniye Mosque, was built on the order of Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent), and designed by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan. The Arabic foundation inscription above the north portal of the mosque is carved in thuluth script on three marble panels. It gives a foundation date of 1550 and an inauguration date of 1557. In reality the planning of the mosque began before 1550 and parts of the complex were not completed until after 1557.

The design of the Süleymaniye also plays on Suleyman’s self-conscious representation of himself as a ‘second Solomon.’ It references the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, as well as Justinian’s boast upon the completion of the Hagia Sophia: “Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” The Süleymaniye, similar in magnificence to the preceding structures, asserts Suleyman’s historical importance. The structure is nevertheless smaller in size than its older archetype, the Hagia Sophia.

The Süleymaniye was damaged in the great fire of 1660 and was restored by Sultan Mehmed IV. Part of the dome collapsed during the earthquake of 1766. Subsequent repairs damaged what was left of the original decoration of Sinan (recent cleaning has shown that Sinan experimented first with blue, before making red the dominant color of the dome).

During World War I the courtyard was used as a weapons depot, and when some of the ammunition ignited, the mosque suffered another fire. Not until 1956 was it fully restored again.

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